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to be enforced. You will yourselves open it where it ought still further to be opened. Proceed in what you do, whatever you do, from policy, and not from rancour. Let us act like men, let us act like statesmen. Let us hold some sort of consistent conduct. It is agreed that a revenue is not to be had in America. If we lose the profit, let us get rid of the odium.
On this business of America, I confess I am serious, even to sadness. I have had but one opinion concerning, it since I sat, and before. I sat in parliament. The noble lord will, as usual, probably, attribute the part taken by me and my friends in this business, to a desire of getting his places. Let him enjoy this happy and original idea. If I deprived him of it, I should take away most of his wit, and all his argument. But I had rather bear the brunt of all his wit, and indeed blows much heavier, than stand answerable to God for embracing a system that tends to the destruction of some of the very best and fairest of his works. But I know the map of England, as well as the noble lord, or as any other person ; and I know that the way I take is not the road to preferment. My excellent and hon. friend under me on the floor (Mr. Dowdeswell) has trod that road with great toil for upwards of 20 years together. He is not yet arrived at the noble, lord's destination. However, the tracks of my worthy friend are those I have ever wished to follow.; because I know they lead to honour. Long may we tread the same road together, whoever may accompany us, or whoever may laugh at us on our journey! I honesily and solemnly declare, I have in all seasons adhered to the system of 1766, for no other reason, than that I think it laid deep in your truest interests and that, by limiting the exercise, it fixes on the firmest foundations, a real, consistent, well-grounded authority in parliament. Until you come back to that system, there will be no peace for England.
SPEECH ON CONCILIATION WITH AMERICA.
[On the 22nd March, 1775, Burke laid before the House of Commons thirteen resolutions, having for their object a reconciliation with the North American colonies, at that time on the verge of open war. Glancing over the previous history of the colonies, the orator examines the causes, which had led to the differences between them and Great Britain. In this speech Burke aims more at the effort to inculcate such practical advice as would lead to the prevention of war, than at the assertion of abstract principles. It is not marked by the brilliant outbursts of eloquence which distinguish
so many of Burke's orations, but there runs through it an even current of calm and practical wisdom, and there are in it several very beautiful pas. sages. There is fine imagery, for instance, in the vision of colonial progress which the orator summoned before the minds of those whom he addressed ; in which he painted with exquisite colouring the greatness to which America had even then attained. The passage also in which Burke urges the claims of the colonies to the enjoyment of the full privileges oí the British constitution, displays much vigour of thought and beauty of language. It was in reply to the arguments contained in the speech, that Dr. Johnson wrote his pamphlet, entitled, “ Taxation no Tyranny." Burke did not succeed in carrying his resolutions, for ministers continued to pursue the same exasperating policy towards the colonies, and consequently the American war soon broke out.]
I hope, Sir, that notwithstanding the austerity of the chair, your good nature will incline you to some degree of indulgence towards human frailty. You will not think it unnatural that those who have an object depending, which strongly engages their hopes and fears, should be somewhat inclined to superstition. As I came into the house full of anxiety about the event of my motion, I found to my infinite surprise, that the grand penal bill, by which we had passed sentence on the trade and sustenance of America, is to be returned to us from the other house. I do confess, I could not help looking on this event as a fortunate omen. I look upon it as a sort of providential favour ; by which we are put once more in possession of our deliberative capacity, upon a business so very questionable in its nature, so very uncertain in its issue. By the return of this bill, which seemed to have taken flight for ever, we are at this very instant, nearly as free to chose a plan for our American government, as we were on the first day of the session. If, Sir, we incline to the side of conciliation, we are not at all embarrassed (unless we please to make ourselves so) by any incongruous mixture of coercion and restraint. We are therefore called upon, as it were by a superior warning voice, again to attend to America ; to attend to the whole of it together; and to review the subject with an unusual degree of care and calmness.
Surely it is an awful subject, or there is none so on this side of the grave. When I first had the honour of a seat in this house, the affairs of that continent pressed themselves upon us, as the most important and delicate object of parliamentary attention. My little share in this deliberation oppressed me. I found myself a partaker in a very high trust; and having no sort of reason to rely on the strength of my
natural abilities for the proper execution of that trust, I was obliged to take more than common pains to instruct myself in every thing which relates to our colonies. I was not less under the necessity of forming some fixed ideas concerning the general policy of the Bri. tish empire. Something of this sort seemed to be indispensable ; in order, amidst so vast fluctuation of passions and opinions, to concentrate my thoughts; to ballast my conduct; to preserve me from being blown about by every wind of fashionable doctrine. I really did not think it safe, or manly, to have fresh principles to seck upon every fresh mail which should arrive from America.
At that period I had the fortune to find myself in perfect concurrence with a large majority in this house. Bowing under that high authority, and penetrated with the sharpness and strength of that early impression, I have continued ever since without the least devi. ation in my original sentiments. Whether this be owing to an obstinate perseverance in error, or to a religious adherence to what appears to me truth and reason, it is in your equity to judge.
Sir, Parliament having an enlarged view of objects, made, during this interval, more frequent changes in their sentiments and their conduct, than could be justified in a particular person upon the contracted scale of private information. But though I do not hazard anything approaching to a censure on the motives of former parliaments to all those alterations, one fact is undoubted; that under them the state of America has been kept in continual agitation. Everything administered as remedy to the public complaint, if it did not produce, was at least followed by, an heightening of the distemper; until, by a variety of experiments, that important country has been brought into her present situation ; -a situation which I will not miscall, which I dare not name; which I scarcely kuow how to comprehend in the terms of any description.
In this posture, Sir, things stood at the beginning of the session. About that time, a worthy member (Mr. R. Fuller,) of great experience, who in the year 1766, filled the chair of the American committee with much ability, took me aside; and, lamenting the present aspect of our politics, told me, things were come to such a pass, that our former methods of proceeding in the house would be no longer tolerated. That the public tribunal (never too indulgent to a long and unsuccessful opposition) would now scrutinize our conduct with unusual severity. That the very vicissitudes and shiftings of ministerial measures, instead of convicting their authors of inconstancy and want of system, would be taken as an occasion of charging us with a predetermined discontent, which nothing could satisfy; whilst
we accused every measure of vigour as cruel, and every proposal of
I felt the truth of what my honourable friend represented, but I
my situation too. His application might have been made with far greater propriety to many other gentlemen. No man was indeed ever better disposed, or worse qualified for such an undertaking than myself. Though I gave so far into his opinion, that I immediately threw my thoughts into a sort of Parliamentary form, I was by no means equally ready to produce them. It generally argues some degree of natural impotence of mind, or some want of knowledge of the world, to hazard plans of government, except from a seat of authority. Propositions are made, not only ineffectually, but somewhat disreputably, when the minds of men are not properly disposed for their reception; and for my part, I am not ambitious of ridicule, not absolutely a candidate for disgrace.
Besides, Sir, to speak the plain truth, I have in general no very exalted opinion of the virtue of paper government, nor of any politics, in which the plan is to be wholly separated from the execution. But when I saw that anger and violence prevailed every day more and more, and that things were hastening towards an incurable alienation of our colonies, I confess my caution gave way. I felt this, as one of those few moments in which decorum yields to an higher duty. Public calamity is a mighty leveller, and there are occasions when any, even the slightest, chance of doing good, must be laid hold on, even by the most inconsiderable person.
To restore order and repose to an empire so great and so distracted as ours, is, merely, in the attempt, an undertaking that would ennoble the flights of the highest genius, and obtain pardon for the efforts of the meanest under ding. Struggling a good while with these thoughts, by degrees I felt myself more firm. I derived, at length, some confidence from what in other circumstances usually produces timidity. I grew less anxious, even from the idea of my own insignificance. For, judging of what you are, by what you ought to be, I persuaded myself
, that you would not reject a reasonable proposition, because it had nothing but its reason to recommend
it. On the other hand, being totally destitute of all shadow of in-
The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war ;
confidence of the colonies in the mother country, to give permanent satisfaction to you people; and (far from a scheme of ruling by discord) to reconcil: them to each other in the same act, and by the bond of the very same in terest, which reconciles them to British government.
My idea is nothing more. Refined policy ever has been the parent
Plain good intention, which is as easily discovered at the first view,
The plan, which I shall presume tú siggest, derives, however, cne